Hard as it may seem to believe, for those who know me well, I grew up with an inordinate fear of public speaking. I just could not bear even the thought of getting up in front of a group and speaking. I don't know what it was but I felt so nervous even thinking about it that I would nearly start crying. Even to give a short talk in primary or "Junior Sunday School" was more than I could handle.
To give you an example, I remember one year the annual primary program was coming and I was just handed a part. I didn't have any say in the matter (hey, I was six or seven years old), they just gave me the piece of paper with my part on it. They asked the primary kids to memorize their parts. That was WAY over the top. My heart pounded wildly at the very thought of just being at the podium and having to read something. Beyond that I could not imagine! My mother, who was (and still is) an amazing public speaker, told me that I had to memorize my part. I told her I couldn't. She said that I would and told me that if I had the piece of paper with me and tried to read it, she would come and take it from me while I was speaking. Oh, the embarrassment and multiplied fear that would cause me! For two or three weeks I was petrified. The time came to do my part. I came to the stand. I started to speak my memorized part (hey, I had the paper with me as a backup) and my voice was so nervous it sounded like I was already crying. I got a line into it and I had to pull out my paper. I glanced quickly back at my Mom (she was on the stand with all the children) and then glanced at my paper for the needed prompt and finished my part (Mom didn't move). I made it, but I thought I was going to die. That fear continued to reside in my heart for years.
Then I remember one day in teacher's quorum (I was 14 years old) our advisor, Darrell Ownby, challenged all the boys to bear their testimony that day in fast and testimony meeting. There was some grumbling among them, but I just said "I'm not going to bear my testimony. I don't have one" (that fear was still there). Darrell looked at me and calmly said, "You don't? Then Scot, what are you going to do with your life?" I said without hesitation, "Well, I read somewhere in the scriptures that if you labor all your days and bring even one soul to the Lord then your joy will be great and if you bring many souls to Him then your joy will be even greater. So, I think I'm just going to bring souls to the Lord." Darrell just looked at me and said deductively, "Scot, you have a testimony." It hit me like a ton of bricks--I really knew something. This gospel really did mean the world to me. I really, really did want to share it with others. I really knew that there would be joy if I did--both in this life and in the next.
Did I bear my testimony that day? No. But I knew I had a testimony. I knew.